Enjoying Sports as A TCK

Hey everyone! In honour of the Tokyo Olympics coming up, I wanted to share some stories about international sporting events that I have seen in my life. People ask me questions about it, so here are all the answers! Please note, in this post, I refer to soccer as football, unless I specify that it’s American Football. It’s easier to say football in this case because it’s better known that way globally. But before I start, I wanted to talk about something important to know about TCKs.

Divided Loyalties:

This is a thing that is common with TCKs when it comes to cheering on sports teams or athletes. Sometimes, it’s hard to say who we support in sporting events because of our many cultures. There’s no rule that says we absolutely have to support certain athletes. I hear a lot from native-born citizens of countries that they feel patriotic when they see their athletes performing. I do feel that way, but with a twist. Some great athletes are just amazing to see and it warms your heart. When that happens, it doesn’t matter where they are from. You’re just happy to see them do well.

I don’t identify as Swedish or Romanian, but I absolutely love Carolina KlΓΌft who won gold for Sweden in the women’s heptathlon in Athens 2004. One of my favourite gymnasts is Catalina Ponor from Romania. I had the pleasure of seeing her perform live in the London 2012 Olympics. Other athletes I love include Usain Bolt, Russian pairs skaters Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Maranin, Svetlana Khorkina, and I loved seeing Chantal Peticlerc even before I became Canadian! Although it was conflicting with my support for Tanni Grey-Thompson, it was nice to see she and Chantal Peticlerc got along really well. I also LOVE American gymnast Shawn Johnson! I wasn’t the only one either. She was one of those people who gets to know everyone, even on the other teams and everyone loved her.

Additionally, thanks to the fact I trained in Russian ballet for years, I know why Russian and Eastern European gymnasts, skiers and ice skaters are so good. They train in the Russian ballet system, so they have my unconditional support! Okay, I already sense some future divided loyalties between supporting Russia or Canada in the Winter Olympics lol!

Funny and Amazing Divided Loyalty Stories:

It’s actually comical sometimes whenever I see two or more countries I identify with competing together in the same event. If it’s a football game in either Euro or the World Cup, I like to see things unfold first, especially if they are two very strong teams competing.

One time, I saw a women’s track final at the Olympic Games that 6 out of 8 of the runners were either British or American! I was officially beat! I didn’t know who to support! In the end, I was just happy to see the race and happy for the winners. In the 2006 Winter Olympics, I was supporting Lindsey Jacobellis of the USA in the women’s snowboarding final. She fell after she grabbed her board, and was beaten by Tanja Frieden of Switzerland. Wow! Divided loyalties I didn’t expect!

Additionally, there were a lot of Jamaican people where I grew up. When Usain Bolt won his gold medals, my neighbourhood ERUPTED!! I happily joined in the celebrations! If my friends support different athletes than me, I’m happy for those athletes too. I want to say more about divided loyalties in general, but I will save that for another post.

UEFA Euro Cup:

Before I start, I wanted to say that I don’t like football, but I do love seeing major international tournaments. I couldn’t understand why England was so obsessed with their national sport. I have never known Americans to be as obsessed with baseball or American football and Canadians are definitely not as obsessed with hockey. Even though football is popular around Europe, I found the obsession with football in England to be a little over the top. Then again, whenever I see something is over the top, I don’t get into it. I think that’s where I learned it from.

That realization of the English obsession with football hit me when England was playing in Euro 2004. It wasn’t as safe to go out when England was playing a game. Whenever I was out, I did my best to avoid the areas with pubs (not always easy in England). One time, England lost a game and there was a riot. As time went on, I realized that riots were normal if England lost a major football game. Whenever I was out at that time, I had to plan even safer routes than I normally would.

I would see things in the news about English football fans causing trouble if they travelled to a country hosting a major football tournament. Fans would get arrested or fined or held accountable in some way for doing the same crap they always do after a game, except in another country where it’s not acceptable. Any time I heard about football fans being disrespectful to another culture, I would roll my eyes! As a TCK, my number one rule is to always make an effort to be culturally respectful. It doesn’t mean I won’t make mistakes, but I try to the best of my ability.

And Then Euro 2020 Happened:

Before 2020, I did continue to watch Euro until I repatriated to the USA. I checked the results of Euro 2016 online though. I hoped the most recent Euro would be broadcast on CBC. No such luck. Still, I found a way to see the match highlights and keep up on the news and support England, France and Switzerland! I was stunned to learn that Euro 2020 was at Wembley Stadium! I move from London, and then England gets to host it! Darn! I had some concerns though because there was already news of English football fans being culturally disrespectful to the other teams. They booed during the Italian national anthem and even physically attacked fans supporting other countries. Although my Mum and I were happy that England made it to the final, we suspected that if England lost, there would be a massive riot with a prejudiced twist.

Sure enough, England lost and racist English fans were blowing up social media. That was due to Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed penalties that could have won the match. Black people in England started being violently attacked for a couple of days afterwards. Mum and I hate that we called it.

Additionally, because I have close contacts in London, I am privy to more insider information there. A contact sent me this thing that was circulating around Snapchat that was a scoring game for committing certain racist attacks. I’m not going to share it because it’s the most unconscionable, diabolical thing I have ever seen! I have seen people make racist comments on social media, but this is above and beyond! Fortunately, people started to move on a few days later, but racism in England still has a long way to go. So NOT surprised by this!

More on Microaggressions in Sports:

After what happened in England, I wonder if they will be banned from the World Cup in 2022, or from future Euro tournaments. Their participation was already controversial because they left the EU. Although, Russia is allowed to participate in Euro and they aren’t part of the EU. Still, I would support UEFA if they banned England from Euro. Heck, they banned Hungary at Euro for racist and homophobic attacks. I admit I am glad that international sports organizations are catching on that they need to hold teams accountable for microaggressions.

As time has gone on, I have seen more and more athletes stand up to the rampant sexism in sports. I’m cheering on the Norwegian and Australian beach volleyball teams for refusing to wear bikinis. Beach volleyball was clearly instituted by horny old geezers in the IOC. Additionally, the Canadian Olympic team has been making accommodations for athletes who are mothers. It’s so amazing to see. I saw this series called Sports on Fire on CBC, and one of them is about the history of genetic testing in sports and discrimination against women who are XY or genetically different from the imposed sex and gender binary. I’m glad that there is more advocacy for change and the wheels are in motion for that change. It’s a stark contrast to when I started watching major sports in the early 2000s.

How It Used to Be:

The most memorable incident of violence I witnessed was in the Football World Cup in 2006. Zinedine “Zizou” Zidane of France headbutted Marco Materazzi for calling his sister a w***e. English newspapers claimed Materazzi called Zizou, “You son of a terrorist w***e!” Granted, both of those are disgusting and I’m glad Zidane headbutted Materazzi. But who got red-carded and penalized? Zidane. Super unfair. I think if it were to happen today, Materazzi would be more likely to be penalized. What’s more violent? A slur against someone’s sister, or headbutting the perpetrator who said it? I’m going with the slur. Plus, it says a lot about Zidane to stand up to toxic masculinity like that. One of my favourite movies is Bend It Like Beckham, and one reason it stands out for me is how they deal with slurs towards players.

I would advocate that athletes who play on the international stage need to have training on how to be culturally intelligent and respectful. Even the best of us make mistakes sometimes, but it’s getting to the point that when mistakes do happen, there needs to be culturally intelligent solutions. We’re just a day into the Olympics and I have already seen more Olympians who have multicultural backgrounds than ever before. Of course, not everyone has that privilege, especially if they are from countries that aren’t as open to other cultures. Bottom line: our world is more open and interconnected, so cultural intelligence is becoming paramount for everyone. One change I’m happy to see is that there is now a Refugee Olympic Team. Plus, whenever presenters talked about certain athletes’ backgrounds and said they had lived in different countries, I’m like, “Yep, possible TCK there!”

Anyway, I have some more to say about the Olympics.

How the Olympic Games Have Followed Me Through My Life:

I was living in France when the 1992 Winter Olympics were being held in Savoie. When we were in the US in 1996, the Summer Olympics were in Atlanta. Both times, we missed out on seeing them. Then, we heard London was going to bid for the 2012 Olympics, and in 2005, we waited with bated breath. The day we got the news that London would host the 2012 Olympics was amazing! Plus, we got the news within a week of the terrorist attack on July 7, 2005, and it felt great to have a boost like that. I found myself wondering how the city would change due to the Olympics. We decided it was worth making the effort to stay in London to see the Olympics.

There was a ticket lottery to see the Olympics. Okay, England didn’t do a good job with tickets, and there were definite problems with bookings. My parents and I decided to enter the lottery to see diving, Artistic Gymnastics apparatus finals, fencing, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. We thought the only one we were least likely to get was the gymnastics. We knew the Paralympic events would be easy to get because they aren’t as popular. When I got the email that we were going to see the gymnastics finals, I must have read over the email 5 times before I believed it!

Was it worth it for London to get the Olympics? I shall say that in another post! Meanwhile, “Go Canada Go!” πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

My First Holiday Season in Calgary! And it was beautiful!

My Mum and I knew from the day we arrived in Canada that my Dad couldn’t come to visit us for Christmas. We had tentatively talked about it before, but then we got through Border Control and everything changed. They asked us if we had any future travel plans, and we mentioned my Dad might come for Christmas. After we said that, we knew that it might not work, and that could get us in trouble. We called my Dad to tell him, and he said he wouldn’t try to visit us for the sake of not jeopardizing our chances in Canada. Comedians often joke about their immigration experiences, which I enjoy. However, some things can’t be joked about because it’s too insensitive. I honestly can’t see myself joking about my experience with Border Control this time.

It was a mixed bag of emotions knowing that this would be my first Christmas without my Dad. I felt like it would be an interesting experience to see what my Mum and I did together to make this season special. Plus, I didn’t want to feel too sorry for myself. I don’t want to get into my relationship with my Dad either. That’s something I save for those near and dear to me. Although, I will say that before I left, there were some things he did that were very hurtful to me emotionally. Part of me was glad to leave and is still glad that I didn’t see him for the holidays. On the other hand, I really missed him on Christmas Day.

And then there was the COVID situation:

Another reason I didn’t want to feel too sorry for myself is that the holidays weren’t going to be normal for anyone this year. We have all had a bad year, and we have all had a loss in one way or another. Some of us have suffered worse than others though. If I think about it, I haven’t suffered as much as others I know. I have been processing my losses because it’s mentally healthy and I can be there for people who have suffered greater losses. The best thing I could do was to send love to the people I know. Love is the main thing we need right now. It’s easy to give and receive it and costs you nothing, but it’s important to take care of yourself too so you don’t exhaust yourself.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, we had a COVID scare! We needed some emergency plumbing done. Then, the plumber who worked on our place was exposed to someone who was also exposed to someone who had COVID. That made me and Mum level 4 of possible exposure! We decided to buck the trend if any. The best thing we could do was a semi-lockdown. We decided to stop going for our chronic pain treatment and limit going out for a while. Luckily, we didn’t get sick. I think it’s good we kept a certain amount of the paranoia we got from living in California during the first part of the pandemic. It would be the biggest irony of all to get sick after leaving a country whose COVID cases are off the charts at this point!

Then, We Had A Wonderful Surprise!

We got 10 inches of snow a few days before Christmas! A couple of days before the snowfall, we got a snow warning. It said to let someone know if you plan to go out and carry a cell phone with you. At that moment, I knew, “Okay. They are not messing around here!” My Mum said, “There’s winter. And then, there’s Canada.” She’s so right! On the day the snowfall started, we were in the southern part of Calgary. Aka: Any further south and we would have been out of the city on the way to the US border. I will talk about Calgarian suburbia more in a future post.

We were travelling home (by public transportation I might add) at the time when it started snowing. It was beautiful to see the snow falling, but I was grateful for being so well bundled up! Plus, visibility was disappearing from the snow fog and the setting sun. We proceeded with caution near the roads. People were driving home in droves. I learned that it can take drivers a while to get used to the snow season, and accidents can happen. We saw a driver nearly get rear-ended because he stopped for us to cross the street and the driver behind him had underestimated the stopping distance! Still, I’m a Londoner and a Public Transportation Odessey never hurt me. I’ll say more about days with deep snow in a future post, but I can honestly say I have thoroughly enjoyed it!

Also, even though it was -8 C, I was able to go outside without gloves! Not bad, hey?

Jazz Hands!

Christmas Eve

We have a tradition on Christmas Eve that we open one present. I chose a present that was both for me and my Mum, which was reading socks! I had stumbled on them as I was discovering the delights of Indigo bookstore (sp: !ndigo). Mum was delighted! We discussed the fact that you don’t really notice that your feet can get cold while reading. Also, this was definitely a creative moment with cultural significance. You’re more likely to notice things like cold feet when reading in a cold-weather/sub-Arctic climate, and someone was creative enough to find a solution for it! I love my reading socks! I’m wearing them as I’m writing this!

We watched some videos of the Halifax Comedy Festival before going to bed. I’m starting to develop a love for Canadian humour, and this has been a great introduction to it.

Christmas Day:

It was another beautiful day! My Mum was elated by the presents I found at !ndigo. I got us a crossword puzzle book of Canadian things as a family present. I feel like this will help us get a better understanding of the culture. We had a lovely Christmas dinner with different cheeses and charcuterie. Then, we had a panettone for our dessert. I wished everyone I knew the best Christmas possible. We have all had a hard year this year, but some have had a worse year than others. That night, we stayed up late and watched a new TV series. I’m not sure about this, but from what I have observed, Christmas night is the big night in Canada. In both the US and UK, it’s Christmas Eve. I guess I will find out more the longer I stay here.

After Christmas:

I started feeling depressed. In 2020, I struggled with depression on and off because of deliberately locking down for seven months. A fact about me as a person is that I love to get out and stay active. If I am forced to remain indoors from either illness or injury, I get depressed. So, naturally, 2020 was a hard time for my depression.

I found myself questioning everything I do during the day and feeling overloaded. It didn’t help that something happened that made me wish I was back in the US! It’s amazing how it’s easy to feel overloaded when the internet and media constantly demand your attention. One of my reasons for moving to Canada was to have a more deliberate life. Living near Silicon Valley felt more like System Overload Valley. Then, I remembered that this year, there is going to be the launch of The Great Reset Initiative. So, I said, “I need a Great Reset for my life!” One reason why I was taking a break from posting is to figure out what I need to do for my Great Reset. More on that later.

By the way, I’m not trying to say that I blindly agree with everything UN institutions are doing. One thing I did at university in my International Finance class is to study how UN institutions work and debate what they do. It was extremely informative, and it’s a practice I still continue today. I subscribe to World Economic Forum newsletters for precisely this reason. Honestly, I developed a passion for economics early on in my studies because of how it opened my world. I chose a fun major and a practical major. Even though Economics seems like my practical major at first glance, it was actually my fun major!

So, I decided to act on Past Precedent:

Next week is my birthday, but I made a decision to delay celebrating it until I felt ready. Sometimes, it can be hard to have a birthday soon after Christmas because you can overwork yourself. Additionally, I remember three years ago, I had appendicitis right before Christmas. My parents basically dropped everything to take care of me. I was home for Christmas, but the day wasn’t much because I was still very sick. We decided to celebrate Christmas on a day that I felt better. I learned that there can be too much pressure to celebrate things on the day. It’s okay to celebrate things later if you physically or mentally can’t do so on the day!

New Year’s:

I started feeling better on New Year’s Eve. A year ago, we started a tradition of doing stand-up comedy during the holiday season. This year, I got my first audience apart from my family! I’m part of this TCK community, and I did my routine for them! My theme was being a TCK, and also Canadian life so far. I am starting to learn what I can use as a common theme in my comedy.

There was something I was NOT looking forward to on New Year’s Eve: Brexit. I heard it was customary to say, “Happy Brexit”! Okay, do NOT say that to me please! Just don’t! I feel this so hard because I went to all this trouble to get dual nationality. I voted to stay in the EU to maintain my citizenship rights and I knew that it would be a big mess if England DID leave the EU. Now, I’m not an EU citizen and it turns out I was right! The only thing that makes me feel better about it is this:

Actually, John Oliver makes me feel better about Brexit in general. I recommend watching his three shows (so far) about Brexit! He can summarize the mess up better than I can!

There is one thing I can celebrate though. Today, I am 10% of the way to permanent residence in Canada! I’m not leaving anything to chance though. I have a plan for staying, and I’m just hoping it works. This month, I have been thinking about how much I have learned about life in Canada so far, and it’s amazing! Multiply that by 10 and who knows where I will be by the time I get permanent residence!

Resolutions:

I’m not one for making empty New Year’s Resolutions or trying to hold myself to impossible standards. I do make resolutions I believe in, but I am also accommodating of obstacles along my way. Some of these have to do with being new to Canada. The others have to do with my own Great Reset. Let me share a few:

  1. Explore more of my beautiful, new country! Whenever I move to a new country, I make a resolution to see more of it! Of course, it depends on the COVID situation, but I do have plans for a trip this summer!
  2. Improve on Canadian French. I am familiar with French French and Swiss-French, but this is a whole other dialect!
  3. Finish the draft of my book by the end of the year. Watch this space!
  4. Learn to drive in Canada. I have driven in England, and in California, but driving in Canada during the winter is a whole other set of skills to learn!

One last thing: If you haven’t filled out the survey for my blog, can you please do so? I am closing the survey on January 15th. Thank you to all of you who have filled it out! I appreciate your feedback!

https://forms.gle/UdcZMnoiaXnDqfjm7